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Old 04-25-2012, 11:16 PM   #1
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F150 Review; 3,300 Mile Towing Trip; Long

This review will attempt to be a comprehensive review of the F150 as it relates to our recent 3,300 towing trip. It IS a glowing review and, as such, might be of most interest to those who are open to the Ford brand.

Truck: F150 FX4, Ecoboost, Max Tow, 3.73s
Trailer: Surveyor SV235RKS; approximately 5,500 pounds loaded

The Tow: Mostly 60 to 62 mph except for 2-lane 55 mph roads. 3,300 miles from St. Paul, MN to Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and back. Five “big towing” days of 8 hours. Four of those days were into nasty headwinds and crosswinds. One day with some assist from the wind. Significant and numerous grades in NW Arkansas. Lots of big “rollers” through Missouri and Iowa. Easy flat tows in Louisiana.

One Word Summary: Wow!
Five Word Summary: Set it and forget it

Much of forum F150 towing discussion recently has centered around the Ecoboost engine. While it is impressive in use, there is so much more to the F150 that I will try to give my impressions on additional aspects of the truck. Overall, what really is impressive, is how many aspects of the truck are so thoroughly thought out, programmed, and so well integrated. The F150 is a complete package. It really is a “set it and forget it” vehicle. Get to your cruising speed, set the speed control, and the truck does a marvelous job of managing itself with little to no intervention required. It will do anything a sane person asks of it. The only real consideration is speed; safety and fuel use repercussions. So, here we go . .

Ecoboost: Let’s get this out of the way. Tremendous torque curve. Most of the trip was in 6th at 1,600 RPM. It was amazing the hills it would take at this low RPM; staying in 6th with lockup. 5th was 2,000 RPM when needed. Saw 4th gear maybe 3 or 4 times. Overall fuel mileage for the trip was 11.5 mpg. A high of 12.2 and a low of 10.3. I was impressed given the wind we had to contend with; and the hills. IMO, the Ecoboost is about 10% more fuel efficient than my ’05 5.4L FX4; under the same conditions and “expectations” of performance; pulling the same trailer. This IS a powerful engine and, if you use that power, it will take fuel. The engine still has the factory oil in it; 6,700 miles on it; oil is still at the top of the “hatch marks” on the stick; estimate perhaps ½ pint of oil has been consumed at most.

6 Speed Select Shift: Nice; especially compared to my previous 4 speed. Tow/Haul worked nicely. Always torque converter lock in 5th and 6th. Seamless shifts. Descent/braking downshifting worked surprisingly well; rarely fooled. Trans temp managed nicely by the truck; always 195 to 197. 193 is normal for unloaded. Transmission programming is nicely attuned to the Ecoboost torque curve.

Cruise Control: Worked SO nicely with the 6 speed and the Ecoboost. Road speed rarely varied by more than 1 mph; even in the hills. It responded quickly to load; providing downshift appropriately when needed; didn’t over accelerate at the crest of the hill like my previous truck. Just stayed right where I set it. Nice. No driver shifting intervention required. My ’05 drove me crazy by waiting too long to downshift; losing speed, and then over-reacting; so I wound up driving it like a manu-matic. So, this was a lot less tiring. With this better programming, I was a lot happier when DW was the driver.

Suspension/Tires: This truck rides amazingly better than our ’05 did. A LOT less bouncing. I figure that this better ride is due to some combination of the following; the 2,000 payload vs previous 1,600; and the LT tires vs the previous P Metrics; less sidewall flex. There could be other factors of which I am unaware; but the ride was much smoother. Very nice on a long haul like we just did. A lot less tiring.

Integrated Brake Controller: Works very smoothly; a big difference from the Prodigy I used before. I anticipate in my driving so am a “light” user of brakes. I never felt the Prodigy, being inertial, gave me much braking assist from the trailer under light braking. The IBC did a much better job at this. No lockups, no jerking; nice trailer assist.

Electric Steering: Ford’s electric steering compensates for crown of the road, crosswind etc. It took a little getting used to. You know how the vehicle “moves around” a little in heavier crosswinds. But before I could put in a steering input, the truck took care of a lot of it itself. It honestly was a little unnerving for me at first. But after awhile, I realized how relaxing it was to drive and how little corrective steering input was required from me. I’ve grown to like it; but it is different. Makes for a very nice drive. A lot less tiring.

Sync System: There IS a learning curve. Once you get it, it is a marvelous system. I loaded ALL of my music on a 20Gig SanDisk in MP3 form. It would respond to verbal commands for artist etc. My iPhone was linked in by Bluetooth. Any calls were handled verbally. Love this technology.

Odds and Ends:

Loved the 36 gallon gas tank. Drove all the way from just North of Kansas City to St. Paul on one tank! (The tailwind day) No worries when fueling stations were few and far between. On shorter haul days, we could go 2 to 3 days without a fill; and there were more opportunities to fill when the trailer wasn’t attached.

The transmission would sometimes “hang” in 4th gear for awhile when accelerating from a stop; always after slowing and crawling through a town. After about a ½ mile, it would decide to use 5th and 6th again. An oddity that I saw on several occasions. Not sure why this happened but I could have done without it.

I miss the grab handle that they have omitted from the driver side front pillar. What’s up with that?

55mph limits resulted in 1,500 RPM in 6th; not a lot. So in combination with rollers, I would lock out 6th just to keep shifting to a minimum; or I would not use cruise and manipulate the throttle to hold 6th. The faster your towing speed, the better it held 6th.

While the tow/haul provided appropriate transmission downshifting, the Ecoboost provides only modest amounts of compression braking. I’ll be taking extra note of this when we do our trip to the Rockies in July. I’m expecting to have to use more brake than I did with the 5.4. Not real happy about that idea.

The Ecoboost is very quiet under normal circumstances. But when pulling a trailer, it is working harder and you know it is a V-6 by the exhaust note. Not unpleasant; just doesn't sounds like a V-8.

IMO, the longer your trips, the lower percentage of your total towing capacity you are going to want to be using. We were at 50%. Very comfortable for a 3,300 mile trip; no struggles.

The Bottom Line: This truck requires very little of you other than to be observant of road conditions and other vehicles. It is a very relaxing, easy, and pleasurable drive. The truck takes care of itself and handles anthing you can sanely/safely throw at it. A lot less tiring!

I hope this was helpful or illuminating to someone!
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:42 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by acadianbob View Post
While the tow/haul provided appropriate engine downshifting, the Ecoboost provides only modest amounts of compression braking. I’ll be taking extra note of this when we do our trip to the Rockies in July. I’m expecting to have to use more brake than I did with the 5.4. Not real happy about that idea.
:
Nice write-up, Bob! Glad to see your assessment of the E/B.

When in "Tow Haul" mode, just tap the brakes a couple of times and the truck will downshift to hold a constant speed. It is not 'engine compression' that will bold back the truck, but the transmission will downshift to will add some towing confidence when tackling some steep down hills!

We just returned from a 2,050 mile trip with the F150 E/B and were very impressed. We got 8.6 mpg one day (high winds in the mountains) and over 10 on flat lands without any hills, etc. 9.6 MPG overall.

Great info, Bob.

Enjoy that truck!

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Old 04-26-2012, 07:11 AM   #3
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Bob..Thanks for the report !! Did you ever try just putting it in the "Tow/Haul "mode only without cruise control.. your mileage seems to be good overall..
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:34 AM   #4
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Bob,
Nice review. I have a 2012 Lariat SuperCrew with the ecoboost.

Do you notice the studder at 55MPH ? I do sometimes. It feels like the tranny can't decide to lock or unlock the torque converter.

I've heard a lot of people complaining about it, but it doesn't really bother me. It's just that I can feel it.

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Old 04-26-2012, 07:59 AM   #5
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" the Ecoboost provides only modest amounts of compression braking"
============================================
Engine braking is in direct proportion to displacement, as the engine is simply acting like an air pump. A 3.5 litre air pump is pretty small.
But that is not a big deal as the trailer brakes are adequate under most conditions. Just watch those long, steep downhills in Colorado. Follow the semis down and you won't have any issues.
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Old 04-26-2012, 08:09 AM   #6
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Bob,

Thx for the write up. Getting ready to tow my 233s 5,000 miles behind my '04 f150 screw this summer and I am envious of the positive results you experienced with your new f150.

We have low miles, only 66,000, and no payments so it's hard to justify to the DW and the wallet that it's time to get a new TV.

The outcome of our trip may help us determine if we need to move up the purchasing decision.
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Old 04-26-2012, 08:35 AM   #7
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Nice write up. Makes me want to trade my F150 for the EB sooner than I planned.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:59 AM   #8
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Great report, Bob. This report has me hankering just that much more for a Ecoboost.
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dretired View Post
Bob..Thanks for the report !! Did you ever try just putting it in the "Tow/Haul "mode only without cruise control.. your mileage seems to be good overall..
Yes. I did that in some of the 55mph 2-lane roads with rollers. I'd let it speed up on the downhill and slow down on the up hill. That gave me better gas mileage than using the cruise (in this situation) and resulted in less transmission shifting.
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:25 AM   #10
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My 2011 F-150 Supercab has the 5.0 V-8. My first towing trip was about 1,600 miles from Amarillo to Phoenix and back, pulling a Shadow Cruiser 185FBS at about 4K#. I pulled into a headwind getting there and it's mountainous part of the way. The automatic engine braking for hills is nice, and with the 5.0, adequate for more weight than I had pushing me. I averaged 11.2 mpg driving 65 - 70 mph and as Bob reported, I was in 6th gear a lot. I purposely didn't get the Eco because I have a friend that has one and is disappointed with his mileage... and I didn't want the turbo complexity. I have averaged 21 on the hiway going to Ft. Worth and back, and I usually get 17.3 around town. To qualify that around-town figure, I live outside Amarillo so my "around-town" driving is a mix of hiway and in town... But it's a heck of a lot better than by old Expedition got... either way. I wish I had that 36-gallon tank, but the 26-gallon tank is OK... Did I mention that it's SILVER? Nice write up... Thanks, Bob!
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